President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared before the State Capture Inquiry on Wednesday, 28 April 2021. The last point of the day before the commission adjourned touched on ‘tainted funding’ made to the African National Congress (ANC).
It was pointed out that despite the absence of an official policy on donations, “there is an expectation [that the] ANC would not knowingly accept monies that are the product of a criminal act, exchanged for favours”.
The evidence leader for the State Capture Inquiry, Paul Pretorius, confirmed that evidence was presented to the commission “that the ANC may have been the recipient of donations […] alleged to have been unlawful”.
Ramaphosa explained that the ANC would “not knowingly receive funding from tainted hands, tainted in the form of the donor being involved in acts of criminality”. He added that it’s hard to determine criminality.
“Businesses donate money to all manner of organisations including political parties, and sometimes when they do so, you don’t know that those donations have come from entities involved in unlawful conduct. That presents us with a problem because the money is already donated”.President Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa added that “political parties are always strapped for cash”, and that money donated to the party would be used for a “variety of activities, so refunds aren’t possible”.
“The issue of the breach happens after the fact. However, what we are saying now is that through the Political Funding Act, there will be transparency. That is why we say [the act] is actually in many ways revolutionary”.
Ramaphosa explained that the Political Funding Act “has brought about a change and should be applauded by all and sundry”. He says it will “soon open a new chapter in regards to advancing democracy” and funding for political parties.
Pretorius, however, pointed out that the ANC must have known Bosasa was heavily reliant on government funding, and that the ANC itself benefitted from questionable donations.
Pretorious wanted to know how “could it happen then that the party continued to receive benefits from a company that relied heavily on government contracts without a thorough investigation of what was happening?”
Ramaphosa explained “it did happen”, and said the focus should now be on how to prevent that from happening again. He added that the Political Funding Act “will be our saviour”.
“When [funding] happens openly and transparently, there shouldn’t be any problem because if you’re going to give money and you know that it is going to be transparent – even if you’ve won a contract – the transparency itself will be such it alerts the public that you should not be seeking favour. The transparency and openness, for me, is the biggest saviour”.President Cyril Ramaphosa